Contrary to the general belief among the majority of the Nigerian adults that Nigerian youths are lazy and unproductive, the Jacob & Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in Humanities, University of Texas, Austin, United State of America, Professor Toyin Falola has enjoined Nigerians, most especially, people in leadership to give respect to Nigerian youths and take them more seriously.
“Africans should begin to trust their youths, respect them and take them more seriously just like the advanced countries”.
“We should harness their potentials and geared their qualities towards good governance. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, General Yakubu Gowon and host of others were entrusted with the mantle of leadership in this country while they were youths”, asserted Professor Falola.
The erudite Professor of African Studies made this remark on Monday, 8th July, 2019 while he was elivering the 2nd Distinguished Lecture of Oba (Dr) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. Professor Toyin Falola who was expected to speak on “Governance, Citizenship and the Nigerian State” decided to address students at the beginning of his lecture having observed that his audience in the hall was mainly populated by them. He challenged the University authority to involve students in the process of management and decision making.
According to him, Michael Dell of Dell Computers, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and President Emmanuel Macron of France were all in their youthful stage at various times when they were encouraged by the systems within their societies to take leadership positions in technology and politics which they used to drive their countries’ economies in advancing good governance.
Making reference to Nigeria, Professor Falola said that when the economy of the country was recalibrated in 2015, the three major sectors that were driving the GDP up then were the movie, music and design industries. He stated that these sectors were mainly populated by youths and they were doing exceedingly well without any input or assistance from the government”.
“They wrote their scripts, acted the characters, and Nigeria music cuts across Africa. It has become so global that we need to thank the youths. Anywhere you go, you will hear the music of Davido, Flavour, Wiz-kid, Kiss Daniel and etc”, declared Professor Falola.
He, therefore, advised the University Management “to establish a Centre for Creativity and Design where the talents and potentials of these youths will be harnessed for the benefit of the society”.
He stated that “governance in relationship with democracy has been tied to corruption”. He advised youths not to be corrupt and shun vices that will destroy their future.
Speaking on the way forward in reforming governance for development, Falola berated government for not making efforts to conscientize people on their roles and duties on active political participation to ensure good governance.
“There is no basis for good governance when both the political class and citizens are ignorant of the dynamics of proper governance in the present era, especially within the premises of a multicultural society like ours” said Professor Falola.
The distinguished Professor also suggested that Nigeria educational system needed urgent reformation to attain good governance. He lamented the increasing rate of illiteracy in Nigeria which he alluded to crippling productivity, political engagement and development of Nigeria. He went on to say that government should “reformulate the national educational curriculum to reflect modern day realities and attend to immediate challenges that are peculiar to Nigeria.” He added that there was the need “to de- westernize our educational system to embrace our indigenous educational system and familiarize it with the people, which makes educational process less cumbersome and more productive”. According to him, the ripple effect of a good educational system on good governance was limitless. “It minimizes illiteracy, curbs violence, increases economic productivity, fosters unity and enhances civic understanding”.
Professor Falola also charged government to ensure that there was adequate provision of a good security system in the country. He stated that safeguarding the lives and properties of the people was the duty of government to its people. “When the people perceive a deteriorating decrease in the standard of their safety, they lose faith, trust and hope in such governance”.
“A vital way a government can establish its credibility is to ensure a maximum level of security is guaranteed”. According to Falola, curbing political violence, inter-religious and ethnic uprising, robbery, kidnapping, and terrorism were among the security issues that were threatening the peace of the people and stability of the society.
Earlier in the day, while declaring the event open, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde disclosed that the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair in Governance was an endowment that was launched in 2015 for the purpose of using the framework of research to address the many complex challenges and problems relating to the attainment of efficiency and effectiveness in the discharge of governmental responsibilities in Nigeria. The Vice-Chancellor added that the occupier of the Chair, whom he described as a distinguished scholar, essayist and public intellectual, Professor Ayo Olukotun has been discharging the mandate and responsibility given to him passionately and systematically with high level performance.
The Vice-Chancellor said that the title chosen for the lecture was apt, given the state of the security in Nigeria and the emerging national conversations with respect to its restructuring. He added that the Guest Lecturer, Professor Toyin Falola, an Alumnus of OOU who currently occupies the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas, Austin, USA would no doubt address the lecture in a manner that would help to clarify the misunderstanding and misinformation relating to the concept of governance.
Thereafter, Professor Olatunde seized the occasion to acknowledge the continuing support and commitment of the donor, Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona and members of the Board of Trustees, to the intellectual and physical growth of Olabisi Onabanjo University. The Vice-Chancellor also revealed that the donor has completed the phase one of the capital projects being implemented on the campus. He disclosed that the University community was awaiting its commissioning any moment from now.
In his own remarks, the Chairman of the event, who is also the Board of Trustees Chairman of the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Kayode Adetona Professorial Chair, Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja, SAN assured the audience that the legacy of the Chair would be everlasting and that “the endowment for the Chair will outlive its donor and all the expectations of the University Community would be met in respect of the support that would be given to the smooth running of the Chair”.
According to him, what the University Community had seen was just a tip of the ice-berg considering what the Board would do. He promised that the second phase of the building project would commence as soon as the first phase is commissioned.
Delivering his speech at the occasion, the Chair of the Oba (Dr.) Sikiru Adetona in Governance, Professor Ayo Olukotun welcomed all invited guests to the event, particularly, the Guest Lecturer, Professor Toyin Falola for accepting to deliver the Lecture amidst his busy schedules. Professor Olukotun informed the gathering that the distinguished lecture series was created in 2017 to complement the annual professorial lecture statutorily expected to be delivered by the occupant of the Chair on every 10th of May which was the birthday of the donor. Speaking further, Olukotun said three of these lectures had been delivered on different aspects of governance which according to him was the main focus of the Chair. He added that a book entitled “Watchdogs or Captured Media: A study of the Role of Media in Nigeria’s Emergent Democracy 1999 – 2016” edited by the occupant of the Chair, had been published. He went on to say, that a second book sponsored by the Board of Trustees of the Chair is nearly completed.
Professor Olukotun also stated that this distinguished lecture by Professor Toyin Falola was prefaced by the First Distinguished Governance Lecture delivered by Professor Oyebanji Oyeyinka, a former Regional Director for Africa, UN–Habitat. The lecture was entitled “From Consumption to Production: A Roadmap to take Nigeria out of Economic Recession”.
According to Professor Ayo Olukotun, “all these previously mentioned lectures, today’s own, as well as the maiden lecture delivered at the launch of the Professorial Chair by Emeritus Professor, Akin Mabogunje could be accessed on the Professorial Chair’s website by simply clicking on Oba Adetona Chair”.
The event came to an end with a vote of thanks given by the Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Israel Ademiluyi. Present at the occasion were Principal Officers of the University, distinguished scholars from sister Universities, top government functionaries and members of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Community, most especially, staff and students.